Venue: Barts Pathology Museum and the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons, London
Organisers: Kristin Hussey (QMUL) and Sarah Morton (Keble College, Oxford)
Advisory Panel: Dr. Tim Brown (QMUL) and Dr. Beth Greenhough (Keble College, Oxford)
Deadline for Abstracts: January 15th, 2016
An interest in the dead body, and particularly its shifting meanings, mobility and agency can be seen in recent works of museology, geography and history of medicine (Hallam, 2007; Maddrell and Sidaway, 2010; Alberti, 2011; Young and Light, 2013). The biographies of human remains held by museums have been an area of considerable interest for medical museums dealing with their Victorian inheritance. The process by which pathological specimens or samples transform from intimate relics of life to scientific data has been explored by social historians of medicine, anthropologists and archaeologists (Boston et al., 2008; Fontein et al., 2010; Withycombe, 2015). There remains, however, little discussion across these disciplines as well as need to further explore the movement of the dead body, both in the past and present, in order to consider broader questions of power, imperialism and globalisation.
From the repatriation of contentious human remains to the controversial and fascinating body-world exhibits, dead body parts circulate in multiple ways through museum spaces past and present. This two-day interdisciplinary conference will bring together museum professionals and academics to foster a productive dialogue on the movement of the dead body and the social, ethical and political challenges it presents. In contrast to the breadth of current research on the movement of the living, the subject of the dead body will be used to bridge the divide between the work of museum professionals and academics to promote the museum as a site for research, and develop new connections and networks.
Through this conference, we hope to use the dead body as a starting point for opening up wider debates on embodied knowledge, materiality and meaning-making, the role of the body in structures of inequality, and the challenges of colonial remains in a postcolonial world. We hope these two days will bring together diverse speakers from across disciplines to consider how bodies and body parts have informed their research and professional practice. We welcome papers from PhD students, early career researchers and heritage professionals, as well as works in progress.
Potential topics include but are not limited to:
· Meanings of different body parts in historical and temporal contexts
· The curation, display, and provenance of medical museum specimens
The materialities of colonialism and politics of repatriation
· Human remains and the practice of medical history
· The production of scientific knowledge
· Provenance and interpretation of morbid and pathological specimens
· The body refigured as an object
· Creation and movement of embodied knowledge
· How the body can be used to tell stories about the past
· Corpse geographies and body biographies
· The body in feminist and subaltern histories
· Ethics of human remains research and display
To submit a paper proposal, please send an email with a 250-word abstract and a short (100 word) biography to [log in to unmask] by January 15th 2016. Successful applicants will be contacted by early February 2015 and be expected to register by 1 March 2016 for the conference held 17-18 May.
For further information or informal questions about possible topics, please contact the conference organisers via : [log in to unmask]
Corpses, Cadavers and Catalogues is a collaboration between Queen Mary University of London, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons, Barts Pathology Museum, and is funded by the Wellcome Trust Small Grants programme.